October 24, 2019

Wing Spar vs Wing Strut


Last week I wrote a synthesis of a report released by the Transportation Safety Board on the crash of a Piper Cub onto the frozen surface of Ontario’s Snowshoe Lake. The title of the article was initially ‘Failed Wing Spar Led to Snowshoe Lake Fatal Crash’. Problem was, it wasn’t the wing spar that failed, but rather the wing strut. Throughout the article all references to the failed component used ‘spar’ instead of ‘strut’. Those who continued on to the full TSB report, which was appended below the article, would have seen that all references were to the failed wing strut, not wing spar.

Both my email account, and that of COPA’s head office, were inundated with emails from readers eager to point out the error. My telephone started to ring too.

I of course know the difference between a wing spar and a wing strut.

So, what went wrong? The only explanation I can think of is that my own airplane, a Piper PA-28, was in for its annual inspection last week. Like all PA-28 owners, never far from our minds is the FAA’s proposed Airworthiness Directive that may require us to have our wings detached and inspected for the presence of corrosion, a procedure many experts say could be more detrimental than leaving it alone and looking for other methods to determine corrosion in the otherwise impossible-to-easily-inspect voids at the wing root. The proposed AD is in response to the detachment of a wing from an Embry-Riddle PA-28 during a flight in Florida last year.

I humbly apologize for the mix-up and shall endeavour to take yet more care in writing and editing eFlight. And feel free to contact me about any inaccuracies, perceived or otherwise.

And to those owners and pilots of PA-28s, rest assured that I am monitoring the situation very closely and will continue to report any new wing spar AD developments.